In 2000, while working on my block field placement (internship) in graduate school, I met a woman who would become my best friend and a profoundly influential part of my life. We shared a lot of formative life experiences of early adulthood together and I accompanied her to the hospital for the births of two of her children and she came to the birth center with me when my oldest son was born. While my own mother had all four of her children at home and so homebirth and natural birth were parts of my life history, I didn’t really begin to focus on birth as an issue until I was married and in my early 20′s. At this point, I was most influenced by the newsgroup misc.kids.pregnancy. So, I became both deeply interested in natural birth and also very invested in my friend’s birth plans and her ideas about birth. As her pregnancy progressed, she hired a doula that I came across at a street fair and took birth classes from her at the birth center in which I would later have my first baby.
After Maggie was born, I was more involved in her life than I have ever been involved with a baby that was not related to me and in a way that I’ve never been able to be involved again. Without any children of my own at the time, I was able to be present for my friend in a way in which I now see, few friends are able to be for each other, since most women who connect during their childbearing years are intensely embroiled in the needs of their own children and families. Looking back, I see I was like the best postpartum doula ever, without knowing that is what I was being at the time (and, I was free, and did it for a year! ) After bringing over dinner every night for the first week, for the following year I then I went over to my friend’s house every morning and took care of the baby while my friend ate her breakfast, took care of herself, and went for a run. Then, we would walk in the neighborhood together for about an hour, talking about our lives, dreams, and plans.
Last year, that magical baby that had such a profound influence on my life and on my birthwork in the world turned TEN! I could hardly believe it. At that time, I asked my friend for permission to post the birth story I had written in my journal the morning after her baby’s birth. My friend granted me permission, but then several days passed and since it wasn’t the baby’s birthday any more, the story sat in my drafts folder for…another year. And, now, that magical, wonderful baby is ELEVEN! Here is her birth story, through my naïve, pre-maternal eyes…
Journal Entry, 11/3/01. 12:22 p.m.
Returned home this morning at 7:15 after being at the birth of Kate & Dave’s baby girl, Maggie. I’m very tired, but I wanted to write a little bit anyway. We went to the hospital at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (11/2) after Kate’s water broke. She was still 2 centimeters at 9:00 p.m., so they started pitocin. At 12:00 a.m. the doulas arrived and Kate was 3-4 centimeters dilated. The doulas were absolutely wonderful at soothing and guiding her. At 1:15 a.m. she was 7 centimeters (!) and at a tiny bit after 2:00 a.m. she began pushing. Then, she pushed for almost four hours before Maggie was born at 5:51 a.m. (8lbs 10z).
It was really hard to watch and not be able to do anything for her. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like as her husband—someone that close in. She did a wonderful, wonderful job. No pain medication at all, even with the pitocin. She only asked about pain meds once (before the doulas got there). I felt completely in awe of her strength and power. She was so brave and so strong and so tough. Powerful woman stuff. I couldn’t believe that she pushed for four hours. I do not think I could have done it. The baby was worth it though—boy is she cute and pink and making me want to have one too!
I can’t really describe what this experience meant to me or how powerful it was. It was beautiful and strong. Kate is an amazing woman and I am awed by her bravery. She and Dave are so happy with their precious little bundle. I got to hold her too, when she was less than 30 minutes old and Kate was being stitched up (bad tear). I didn’t feel like much help to Kate, but being present mean a lot to me and I hope the fact that I was there meant something to her too. I’m so encouraged to see that a hospital birth can be pulled off so well.
Life is wonderful. Welcome, baby girl!
Happy Birth-Day to you both today, Maggie and Kate! You hold a deep and special place in my heart. You both changed my life forever.